The National Corn Growers Association joined 51 other agricultural groups in submitting comments this week to the U.S. Department of Transportation addressing the many disruptive factors facing the U.S. supply chain. The comments provide recommendations on how to alleviate these challenges through legislative and regulatory actions.
“To be successful, farmers must have a reliable and fully functioning national transportation system that will allow us to receive our fall fertilizer shipments and deliver our products to consumers in a timely fashion,” said NCGA President Chris Edgington. “That’s why NCGA, along with other groups, are making our voices heard in these discussions.”
The comments address several key areas of concern to corn growers, including:
• Inland Waterways. The inland waterways system is vital to the American supply chain and gives U.S. producers a significant advantage in terms of cost and efficiency over international competitors. The comments urge the administration to prioritize legislative and regulatory actions that promote the rehabilitation of aging waterway infrastructure on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois River. This includes the addition of seven 1,200-foot locks on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway as part of the Navigation Ecosystem Sustainability Program.
• Rail Competition and Service. The comments mention the value of promoting competition in rail transportation and the cost saving outcomes such actions would have on U.S. grain shippers and receivers. The comments encourage the Surface Transportation Board to consider a regulation which would allow for the use of “reciprocal” or “competitive switching.” Competitive switching would enable shippers and receivers geographically beholden to one rail carrier to gain access to a second rail carrier through a short distance “switch.” NCGA supports a competitive and nondiscriminatory rate structure for our nation’s railroads.
• Motor Carrier Freight Transportation Efficiency. The comments recommend a few key actions that could help alleviate the disruption in the U.S. motor carrier freight transportation sector. One of our recommendations, for example, was that USDA and the U.S. Department of Transportation continue to coordinate to ensure agricultural haulers and the rest of the trucking industry have the flexibilities needed to provide timely delivery of essential products. Flexibilities such as relief from Hours-of-Service requirements have been critical over the last 18 months.
NCGA’s actions come on the heels of President Biden’s announcement that the Port of Los Angeles would begin to operate 24 hours, seven days a week. This move could potentially mitigate the bottleneck of goods on the west coast awaiting distribution throughout the country.